It is strongly encouraged for inventors to have a strategy in place for the patent protection of their invention. This starts from the beginning with the initial supply of documents all the way through the patent life span. This safety net gives you legal rights to your invention and prevents others from making, using, or selling it. If there is an infringement on these rights, you can sue that person in court litigation.
The owner of the patent has the responsibility to actually enforce the patent. The PTO and government do not go after patent infringers. The patent-holder at their own expense must take any infringers to court concerning violations of the subject matter. You must be able to substantiate your claims in court which requires a precise legal evaluation of the situation.
Patent Protection Length
The protection period depends on the type of patent. Utility patents offer patent protection for a period of 20 years. Design patents offer patent protection for a period of 14 years. And plant patents offer patent protection for a period of 20 years. All terms start from the application filing date.
The term can be extended beyond the stated time frames to compensate the patent owner for delays. On the other hand, patents can expire for reasons other than they have reached the statutory period. It can range from not paying the required maintenance fees to being recalled by PTO for illegal conduct. An expired patent acts as a prior art reference and can be used by anyone without permission.
To Patent Or Not
Determining whether or not your idea needs patent protection is a personal decision. It does involve weighing the pro and cons of filing, enforcing, and maintaining your intellectual property rights. The application for filing a patent can be a lengthy and expensive process, particularly when most inventors find they need the assistance of a patent attorney.
You also have to consider if patent law offers you more shelter than your state trade laws. Patent infringement cases can be complex to defend and the cost is very high. You will need access to financial resources to cover your legal fees. Keep in mind, the maintenance fees that will have to be paid to during the patent term.
Keep Detailed Records And Stay Organized
In order to apply for patent protection, you must file the application within one year of the public use or publication of the invention. Patent law is very specific and you must maintain careful records of the research and development of your invention.
Patent filing is a time consuming process with many requirements. Most of the patent applications that are received are refused. Rejections can be overcome by making the appropriate changes and you must resubmit the application. This is where being on top of your documents, notices, and communications is vital to you staying on top of things.
In the event that a patent is granted, the inventor has to follow an aggressive plan for patent protection to ensure that there is no infringement on the rights of the patent. If you suspect your patent is being infringed, early involvement of a patent attorney is very important.